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Pope Francisco writes to La Repubblica: "An open dialogue with non-believers"
La Repubblica (Italy) ^ | Sept. 12, 2013 | pope Francis

Posted on 09/12/2013 10:10:37 AM PDT by edwinland

Dear Dott. Scalfari,

I would cordially like to reply to the letter you addressed to me from the pages of "La Repubblica" on July 7th, which included a series of personal reflections that then continued to enrich the pages of the daily newspaper on August 7th.

First of all, thank you for the attention with which you have read the Encyclical "Lumen fidei". In fact it was the intention ... not only confirm the faith in Jesus Christ, for those who already believe, but also to spark a sincere and rigorous dialogue with those who, like you, define themselves as "for many years being a non-believer who is interested and fascinated by the preaching of Jesus of Nazareth".

...

In particular, I think there are two circumstances which today cause this dialogue to be precious and necessary.

...

The first circumstance - that refers to the initial pages of the Encyclical - derives from the fact that, down in the centuries of modern life, we have seen a paradox: Christian faith, whose novelty and importance in the life of mankind since the beginning has been expressed through the symbol of light, has often been branded as the darkness of superstition which is opposed to the light of reason. Therefore a lack of communication has arisen between the Church and the culture inspired by Christianity on one hand and the modern culture of Enlightenment on the other. The time has come and the Second Vatican has inaugurated the season, for an open dialogue without preconceptions that opens the door to a serious and fruitful meeting.

(Excerpt) Read more at repubblica.it ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: pope; popefrancis
Am posting a link to the full text of Pope Francis' letter to an atheist who challenged him in the pages of Italy's La Repubblica newspaper. The letter is (of course) being mangled by the press so I urge you to read the full text instead (at the link). It is a very beautiful and moving letter.
1 posted on 09/12/2013 10:10:37 AM PDT by edwinland
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To: edwinland

Posted yesterday: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/3065600/posts

I agree, one must read the entire letter, and NOT to depend up the news reports for anything more than the knowledge about the letter and a link to it.


2 posted on 09/12/2013 10:12:39 AM PDT by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: GreyFriar

Many are called, few are chosen.


3 posted on 09/12/2013 10:15:23 AM PDT by edcoil (System now set up not to allow some to win but for no one to lose!)
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To: GreyFriar

Well, why? The news is always fair and balanced when it comes to the pope and the church


4 posted on 09/12/2013 10:25:57 AM PDT by stanne
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To: GreyFriar

My mistake. I searched for the word “pope” twice before posting, but I just realized I searched keywords instead of titles.


5 posted on 09/12/2013 10:33:24 AM PDT by edwinland
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To: edwinland

Thank you.

I found aspects of the letter troubling or at least wanting. Yes, we are grafted into the true faith and, so, our brothers in the Jewish faith do not have to convert, they are already in the true faith. But, is it not commanded that we are to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel? And, we not to provoke our Jewish brothers to jealousy for their (and our) God?

Also, I think I disagree with the Pope saying that there might not be any absolutes as this seems to say that God is not sufficient unto himself. Did he create us, for example, because he was lonely? The traditional answer to this does incorporate what the Pope said, so perhaps the Pope only gave an answer to a direct question, and not a complete answer.

God in his infinite love and creativity brought forth his Son and the Holy Spirit and through his Son created us and the entire universe as an expression of his love. So, it’s not that he was lonely, no even that he had to, but that he was impelled, freely, to express his love in his creation. Think of a great artist and a canvass. He is impelled, is he not, to express himself; but, this is not by any external force, but is an inner compulsion.


6 posted on 09/12/2013 10:35:21 AM PDT by Redmen4ever
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To: edwinland

So little time to read the entire letter.

in order to have faith one must believe that those things that are written in the bible actually happened as written.

(I do not deny the existence of any of the biblical figures, just their interpretation of what they saw and documented)


7 posted on 09/12/2013 10:41:15 AM PDT by Vaquero ( Don't pick a fight with an old guy. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.)
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To: Redmen4ever

“Yes, we are grafted into the true faith and, so, our brothers in the Jewish faith do not have to convert, they are already in the true faith.”

That is not true...the whole point of Romans 9, 10, and 11 is that God, through Paul, is saying that some of the branches were broken off BECAUSE OF THEIR UNBELIEF(11:19) so that the Gentiles might be grafted in.

A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come it; and so all Israel [all who believe in Yeshua, their Redeemer] will be saved; just as it is written, “THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.” (11:25-26)

If they (Israel) do not continue in their unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
(11:23)

This is what God says, not the pope.


8 posted on 09/12/2013 10:51:25 AM PDT by TurkeyLurkey
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To: TurkeyLurkey

Jesus, to Nicodemus: “You must be born again!” I think Nicodemus was a Jew. Paul was faultless concerning the law but needed to be born again.


9 posted on 09/12/2013 11:00:59 AM PDT by liege (America 180)
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To: liege

Paul WAS born again.


10 posted on 09/12/2013 11:10:14 AM PDT by TurkeyLurkey
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To: edwinland
As St. Paul points out in Romans 1:18-20, everybody knows the basic rules of morality because God revealed them in creation. Everybody intuitively knows the natural law. Everybody knows it's immoral to murder, steal, rape, commit perjury, etc.

So, I think there's ground for a dialogue about morality with everybody except Muslims. I except Muslims because Muslims specifically reject the natural law, so with Muslims one could only reason based on Sharia, and since Sharia is closed and in any event subject to the rule of the established Sharia law authorities (the "ulema"), there's no talking to Muslims from the get-go.

But we Christians really can talk with anybody who accepts that morality is discernible from the facts of creation.

I would add that so long as a person is committed to the Truth and the Natural Law, then that person is in a very real sense committed to Christ, even though he or she may be unaware of that fact, or maybe even vehemently rejects any affiliation with Christ. That's because Christ is the Way (the Natural Law) and the Truth. I believe that Solzhenitsyn was committed to the Truth to the point he was willing to suffer the GULAG for it before he realized the Truth has a name - Jesus Christ. He was a Christian but didn't know it." With such people I will speak humbly. The Pope is right about this. So long as a person believes that things like basic human rights are "self-evident", then let them in good faith believe in Nature, and let Nature's God reveal Himself to them in His time.

11 posted on 09/12/2013 11:12:20 AM PDT by Gluteus Maximus
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To: TurkeyLurkey
Paul WAS born again.

Yes, and quite dramatically.

12 posted on 09/12/2013 11:14:04 AM PDT by liege (America 180)
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To: TurkeyLurkey
The Pope is unwilling to say that unbelief leads to damnation and hell. Jesus said to a Jew, "You MUST be born again." And later, Jesus said, “He who believes in Him (God's only son) is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

All of us start out in unbelief, but the Gospel offers us salvation by faith in Christ. Jesus didn't leave room or offer salvation for those who conveniently follow their conscience, yet remain in unbelief.

13 posted on 09/12/2013 11:50:18 AM PDT by aimhigh
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To: Gluteus Maximus

Muslims deal in strange memories and fantasies that would be merely in he subconscious of life. There is a flipping of what should be conscious unconscious and vice versa.

The Jewish people love history and that ties in with repent to Christ God of innocence. Bad memories become good when they give examples towards righting oneself and realizing the greatness of God to heal us anew. Once anew the bad memories are of no concern and irrelevant. It is the stubborness in denial which makes them all the more teasing from the so called unconsciousness of Freud.

Things like sex to a Muslim is part of the daily conscious. It’s like driving a car. First manipulation of the steerig wheel is conscious, then the driving and ride an living the journey becomes priority to the conscious whereas the controls are pretty much ignored and left for the “spine” to enjoy on it own without interfering with the enjoyment of the ride itself.

This is why stating that marriage is subservient to sexual orientation shows how confused and dangerous our society has become.


14 posted on 09/12/2013 11:55:48 AM PDT by lavaroise
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To: Gluteus Maximus

that’s a beautiful point about Solzhenitsyn.


15 posted on 09/12/2013 12:08:13 PM PDT by edwinland
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To: Gluteus Maximus

Yes, he did thank God for the gulag.


16 posted on 09/12/2013 12:09:59 PM PDT by lavaroise
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To: edwinland

Actually, more gained than lost in your reposting. the World War III video has been posted a dozen plus times in the last 3-4 days.


17 posted on 09/12/2013 12:53:19 PM PDT by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: Redmen4ever

Remember to whom Pope Francis was writing. And I see “absolutes” as possibly meaning “absolutes from a human perspective/understanding.” I’m still working on digesting the letter. I see this letter as directed to non-Jewish non-believers, aka pagans, atheists, secular humanists, etc.


18 posted on 09/12/2013 1:01:11 PM PDT by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: TurkeyLurkey

This is what God says ...

Excuuuuuse me MR. VOICE OF GOD.

I can see why you object to the Pope claiming to interpret the Bible, since that encroaches on your territory. But, there’s a funny thing about the Reformation, that every believer is free to interpret the Bible. It de-thrones all would be Popes and simultaneously elevates all those whose study of the Bible and reasonableness makes him a good authority, even if not an infallible authority.

Now, as to the specifics of what you are saying. This is “replacement philosophy,” that Christians are the new and better children of God, and the Jews no longer play a special role in salvation history. Then why is the devil so hell bent on killing the Jews? Did he not get the word?

Just as I objected to the Pope’s apparent acceptance that Judaism and Christianity are two distinct but still legitimate religions, I object to replacement philosophy. The Jerusalem Council made it clear that we do not have to become Jews to become Christians, and Paul adds that we are called in our place and, so, should not be anxious about the matter. And maybe he said something about this in his letter to the Galatians. So, I myself don’t make a big deal of it. Besides, it is said that when Jesus returns, God’s name will be one, implying that before Jesus returns there will be disagreement about his character. So, in my book, this all adds up to “chill out.”


19 posted on 09/12/2013 1:11:01 PM PDT by Redmen4ever
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To: aimhigh

The pope, if he believes that unbelief does not lead to damnation and hell, does not believe what God says in His word—that we are all born
1) unrighteous (Romans 1:18)
2) in sin (sinners) (1 John 5:17)
3) ungodly (Romans 1:18)
4) not able to enter the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor. 6:9)
5) under God’s wrath (Romans 1:18)
6) dead in our trespasses and sins, i.e., spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1-10)
7) in need of being born again (born from above) in order to see the kingdom of God (John 3:3), same as the kingdom of heaven

Then the pope is giving “non-believers” a false sense of security in their own righteousness, just like the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ time had, whom He dealt with on the same issue.

The Jews, who knew the law, trusted in themselves that they were righteous and viewed others with contempt (Luke 18:9-14). The Gentiles didn’t even have the law and were guided by their own sense of right and wrong, or flesh, as they still do today...many with seared consciences. Yet they too, come under God’s perfect justice according to His Word.

I couldn’t agree more, that the Gospel offers us [BOTH JEW AND GENTILE, Romans 1:16] salvation by faith in Christ, and that Jesus didn’t leave room or offer salvation for those who follow their conscience (or whatever else they follow), yet remain in unbelief.

When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus He told him that unless he was born again he could not see the kingdom of God, speaking of spiritual rebirth, since all men come into the world spiritually dead.

Up until that time, all men who believed in God’s promise of the Deliverer went to Hades, to the part called Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16). No man would ascend into heaven until Jesus Himself had been crucified, buried, risen from the dead, and ascended into heaven. When Jesus descended into Hades, He took the spirits of those OT believers into heaven with Him into heaven, as well as the thief on the cross who repented from his sins and asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom. All the rest who are still in Hades, the ungodly, will remain there until He returns and death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire (gehenna, hell).

So, then “Born again” = to have a new spirit, a new heart, the Holy Spirit, and the law written on our hearts; to have a righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees (Matthew 5:20); to have the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22); to become the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), to be justified and reckoned as righteousness (Romans 4:5-8), to be set free from the bondage of sin and death (Romans 7:25; 8:2-4); to have entrance into the kingdom of heaven, in the presence of our heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus.


20 posted on 09/12/2013 1:15:28 PM PDT by TurkeyLurkey
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To: Vaquero
"in order to have faith one must believe that those things that are written in the bible actually happened as written. (I do not deny the existence of any of the biblical figures, just their interpretation of what they saw and documented)"

Well technically no. You could reject much of what's recorded in the Bible and still have faith and be saved. It's not faith in the Bible that's required, it's faith in Jesus.

What you can't reject is that you're a sinner, and that God sent his only begotten son, Jesus, to pay the price for your sins. And you need to accept Jesus as your Savior through prayer.

Rejecting the rest would probably result in many heretical beliefs, but you could still be saved.

Generally, faith in the Bible and faith in Jesus go hand in hand. But it's entirely possible for that to be largely unhinged.

21 posted on 09/12/2013 1:19:16 PM PDT by DannyTN
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To: Redmen4ever

You have a lot of presuppositions and false judgments, which I will not respond to, only to say that Replacement Theology is the belief that the church has replaced Israel. I quoted you right from the Bible.

I suggest that you study Romans 9, 10 and 11—it is quite clear that the church does not replace Israel.

The remnant—believing Israel—will be regathered when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. At that time God’s promises to them in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 36:22-32, which are promises of the New Covenant, will be fulfilled.

Between now and then, both Jew and Gentile are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and come into the New Covenant—Jesus is the only way for both to have eternal life, or to be born again.


22 posted on 09/12/2013 1:27:33 PM PDT by TurkeyLurkey
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To: edwinland
There were three times when Jesus was asked how to have eternal life.

The first time was when the rich young ruler came to him. Jesus quoted several of the commandments. The ruler said "I've kept those from my youth". Jesus said sell all your goods and follow me. The rich young ruler went away sorrowful. Effectively even thought the rich young ruler had lived an extremely good life by human standards, Jesus had focused him on "Have no other God before me". And he failed.

The second time a lawyer asked. Jesus replied what's written in the law?" The Lawyer replied "Love God and Love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus said, "Do this and you will live." The lawyer "seeking to justify himself" asked "who is my neighbor?". Which led to the parable of the good Samaritan. Again Jesus answered obey the law, but in such a way that it showed the seeker his faults.

The third time was Nicodemus. To Nicodemus, Jesus said, "You must be born again."

There are two ways to get to heaven. Never sin, or be forgiven. Scripture tells us none are righteous, nobody has done or will do the first, except for Jesus.

23 posted on 09/12/2013 1:28:15 PM PDT by DannyTN
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To: Gluteus Maximus

A person who believes in natural law, or the existence of objective truth, is or should be on our side.

Thank you.

I too think atheists who, as you say, believe in natural law, discernible through reason, is or should be on our side. But, I wonder why they object to using the G-word. Are they unforgiving of Christians and other religious people? What we, as Christians uniquely have to offer the world is Christ and the assurance of salvation. One thing I suspect is that evangelical atheists are unforgiving, do not know God’s mercy, and fear for their own condemnation.

Another thing I think is that evangelical atheists doubt God’s design of the universe. Now, we all doubt. If we didn’t, why was Jesus always saying “Do not fear.” If we didn’t doubt, why are faith and hope needed in this life. Einstein once said a scientist searches for an answer, believing that there is an answer. He said this is an essentially religious belief. I don’t know why some people believe there is an answer and others do not. The Bible describes it as a gift. But, here’s what I do know. Without belief, their is fear, and fear is the vanguard of nihilism.

As to the inclination of Islam to a rejection of reason, it wasn’t always so. Indeed, there are ways to interpret Ibn Taymiyyah as teaching that you had to read the Koran in context and with reason. But, I agree with you, there was a closing of the Islamic mind and an escape into a false pride based on having a monopoly on the truth.


24 posted on 09/12/2013 1:34:52 PM PDT by Redmen4ever
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To: edwinland

John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”


25 posted on 09/12/2013 1:40:17 PM PDT by mjp ((pro-{God, reality, reason, egoism, individualism, natural rights, limited government, capitalism}))
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To: DannyTN

God has revealed Himself in three ways, according to Romans 1 and Hebrews 1:2:

- through what has been created
- through His Word, the Bible (all of it) &
- in His Son

As far as the Bible, Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-19:

“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Then there is the issue of false prophets that He addresses by a comparison of a bad tree (the false prophets) and a good tree. He said you will know them by their fruits.
(Matthew 7:15-20)

Then there is His teaching on those who call Him “Lord,” but won’t enter the kingdom of heaven because they don’t do His well; they don’t act on His words, but instead practice lawlessness. (Matthew 7:2-29)

Jesus is the living Word.


26 posted on 09/12/2013 1:40:52 PM PDT by TurkeyLurkey
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To: TurkeyLurkey

I think you have clarified a lot and are basically correct. Now, let me ask you to comment on the following persons and we can maybe tidy this up.

Person A is not a church-y type person. He doesn’t regularly attend services. He doesn’t say any prayers. Yet he loves other people (in the sense of being kind and even more so generous) and more than this, he doesn’t murder or steal or commit adultery or bear false whiteness against his neighbor.

Person B is also not a church-y person, he doesn’t regularly attend services or say any prayers. Yet, one day he enters a burning building to save a stranger in the process of which he succumbs to the flames and the smoke and dies.

It seems to me that these people fall into a grey area. They don’t have assurance of salvation. Yet, on a human scale, they also seem to obey God’s law, most importantly his commandment to love others as we love ourselves. I am concerned about why they don’t obey the even greater law, to love God with your whole person, but maybe they do, at least the second person, in giving his life to save another. And I am concerned that no matter how many or how big their good works, God is holy and cannot countenance any sin, and they along with all of us sin.

BTW My examples are meant to exemplify Romans 13:8-9 and John 15:13. Also, my father sort of exemplified persons A and B and, so, when I visited him during his last few days in this world, I shared the plan of salvation, that God, who is holy, has a way to forgive, he is both all just and all merciful.


27 posted on 09/12/2013 1:59:44 PM PDT by Redmen4ever
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To: Redmen4ever
Your person A and B are interesting, because their motives and heart are unknown. In John 3:8, Jesus says, "he who does not believe is condemned already." Christians are saved by faith. That faith will be expressed through love. But love without faith won't cut it with God, for the scripture says that "without faith, it is impossible to please God."

In 1 John 3, John wraps it up nicely with this: "And THIS is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment."

28 posted on 09/12/2013 2:25:50 PM PDT by aimhigh
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To: TurkeyLurkey
"Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

"Least in the kingdom of heaven" implies he is in the kingdom of heaven. Which is my point. They erred, but they are still in.

Then there is His teaching on those who call Him “Lord,” but won’t enter the kingdom of heaven because they don’t do His well; they don’t act on His words, but instead practice lawlessness. (Matthew 7:2-29)

Notice that Jesus says: "Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

The relationship is key. He didn't say I used to know you but we parted ways, or I knew you, but you were lazy, or I knew you but you failed. And certainly not, I knew you, but you didn't understand all the scripture and had some screwed up beliefs." "I never knew you".

Believing in Jesus IS doing the will of the Father.

"Jhn 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."

It's not works that saves us...

But as James points out, true faith ought to produce works. True faith is different than mere mental accent that Jesus is who He claims to be, for as James points out, "Even the demons believe". True faith trusts in Jesus for salvation. That faith given time produces works. But it's not the works that save you, it's the faith.

Once we believe. Once we've put faith in Jesus we have passed from death to life. We will not come into condemnation. Nothing in life nor death will separate us from the Love of God.


29 posted on 09/12/2013 2:29:03 PM PDT by DannyTN
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To: edwinland

Is the Catholic Church a Non Christian cult. Praying to “saints” I put ssaints in quotes because the whole thing about Sainting people is not Biblical.

A Saint is a follower of Christ, a Christian is a Saint. This business of sainting people is a joke

Yes The Virgin Mary was a very special Human being, but again, there is only one mediator between man and God, and that is Christ Jesus

Nowhere does the Bible tell us to invite Mary in to our hearts, or pray to anybody else but God/Jesus

And this idea that anybody other than Jesus is infallible, what a joke, a sad joke

Purgatory is also not in the Bible

The Catholic Church has really never believably condemned Abortion, just lip service, they have never cared enough to say that supporting such things is to disqualify oneself from the Christian faith

They are more worried about the collection plate than the things of God

Catholic Church certainly has lots of company, so I am not just targeting them....the list is to long. basically organized religion in 2013 is in pretty much the same state


30 posted on 09/12/2013 4:06:08 PM PDT by Friendofgeorge (SARAH PALIN 2016 OR BUST)
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